The ketogenic lifestyle has a whole raft of benefits to support it. As well as being the fastest, most efficient way to lose body fat, and keep it off, it also brings some spectacular cognitive benefits (link to brain benefits article). There are, however, a couple of not so advantageous side effects of going keto. The most noticeable one is also the most socially awkward.
It’s called keto breath and is characterized by a rather unpleasant smell that comes out of your mouth when you are in the state of ketosis. While keto breath is a great sign that you are actually in the state of ketosis, it is also something that you probably want to lessen or even eliminate. This article will show you how.
So, just what is Keto breath?
When you go into ketosis there are three types of ketones that are produced. One of them is in the form of acetone, a gas. This gas is released through the breath. It is this which causes a fruity, acidic odor on your breath. For some keto dieters, this may also be experienced as a metallic sensation in the mouth.
Because all people are unique, not everyone is affected by keto breath in the same way. Some people may not get keto breath at all. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that you won’t have a stinky breath to contend with. But, then again, you won’t be able to test whether you are in a state of ketosis with a keto breath monitor such as the ketonix device (link to ketonix article).
Other people experience keto breath during their transition to the keto lifestyle. After a month or so, however, the effect lessens and then stops completely. Others will have a strong acetone flavor to their breath for as long as they remain in a state of ketosis.
There is nothing harmful about breathing out acetones through your mouth. It is a completely natural and safe process. The only reason to lessen its effect is cosmetic, to avoid social embarrassment.
What are the Symptoms of Ketosis?
Keto breath is not the same as general bad breath that comes about as a result of not brushing your teeth or other bad hygiene habits. As has been already mentioned it is the result of the expulsion of ketones from the body in the form of acetones. The result is a sweet acidic odor that can be accompanied by a metallic sensation.
Keto breath has been described by people who are in a state of ketosis as being like the smell of paint thinner. Some people may produce a slight odor in their breath, while in others it can be extremely pronounced.
It is pretty difficult for humans to smell their own breath so it is quite likely that people who are in ketosis are not even aware that their breath smells. Try blowing on the back of your hand and most of the odor that comes to your nose will be from your hand rather than your breath.
To find if you have keto breath, the best way is to ask someone around you if they can smell it. You can also, of course, use a keto breath monitor to assess your breath acetone level.
Why Does Keto Cause Keto Breath?
Breathing out acetones is one reason why your breath stinks when you are in a state of ketosis. There are, in fact, a couple of others reasons that may cause keto breath.
Your breath will most noticeably have an acetone odor when you are first getting into the state of ketosis. At this stage you are not fully adjusted to burning energy through ketones. Ketones that you are not yet converting into energy are escaping from the body as acetones through your breath. Those that you don’t expel through your breath will be eliminated with your urine.
Another cause of your key breath could be that you’re taking in too much protein. A side effect of the digestion of protein in the body is ammonia. Just like acetones, ammonia is removed from the body through the breath. Just like acetones, it has a paint thinner like smell. If you keep your protein macros between 20 and 25 percent while you are on keto, you should have a noticeable expulsion of ammonia through your breath.
Many people have concerns about excess protein being converted into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. There is a lot of confusion about this subject. To get the facts straight on protein and gluconeogenesis, check out this article (link to article on gluconeogenesis).
A final cause of keto breath could be that you are not drinking enough water. Acetones are either expelled from your system through your mouthy or through your urine. But when you don’t drink enough water, you won’t be urinating as often as you need top to get rid of ketones that way. This means that most of the acetones will have to go out via the mouth. This will make your keto breath more pronounced.
What to Do About Keto Breath
Getting into ketosis is hard work. When you get there, you want as much of your ketones to be used up as energy as possible. That means that the less of it that comes out of your mouth, the better. So, how do you do it?
The first and most fundamental way is to be as strict as you possibly can about limiting your carb intake. That means keeping your daily carb intake to under 20 grams.
When you consistently maintain 20 or fewer grams of carbohydrates per day you will be pretty confident that there is no glucose in your system. With no glucose, the body will be totally reliant on ketones for its energy source.
However, ridding yourself of glucose is more difficult and takes a lot longer than most people imagine. It could take between three and seven weeks.
There’s another strategy you can use to help you to adapt to ketosis more quickly. In the process, you will have a reduced level of breath acetones. This is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting involves not eating for a period and then having an eating window. The most practicable way to do this in relation to keto is to fast for 16 hours and eat over an 8-hour window each day. A method that many people finds works for them is to fast between 7pm and 11 am and then to eat over the next 8 hours.
Make sure that you are well hydrated whole transitioning to keto. You should consume at least a half gallon (around 2 liters)of water per day. This will help you to stay regular with your urine release, allowing ketones to escape through that route as well as through the mouth.
Another strategy to speed up ketosis is to consume more foods that are filled with chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is an excellent overall body cleanser. The more green leafy vegetables that you eat, the more chlorophyll you will get.
Maintain Oral Hygiene
We’ve already seen that keto breath is quite distinct from bad breath caused by bad oral health. It is caused by the release of either acetones, ammonia (from protein) or a combination of the two. However, that doesn’t mean that following good oral hygiene practices won’t help to improve the condition – it will.
In this section we’ll consider what oral hygiene practices you should habitually be doing to reduce keto breath.
Brush your teeth and tongue daily
Brushing after every meal will make sure that you don’t get an unhealthy bacterium build up in the mouth. To avoid plaque build up, inflammation and foul breath, you should also brush your tongue on a daily basis. Flossing your teeth regularly is another good habit to get into.
Oil pulling might sound pretty drastic, but it is nothing of the kind. It simply involves taking a mouthful of coconut oil and swilling it around your mouth. This will allow you to remove any bacteria that has built up in your mouth. You should ingest a teaspoon of coconut oil and swill it around for about ten minutes. Once your done, spit the oil out and them immediately go into the bathroom and brush your teeth.
Get into the habit of oil pulling first thing in the morning before you have your first meal. When you are swilling the coconut oil, you should remain seated and keep your head up.
So, what makes coconut oil the best oil to use for this purpose? The secret is that it contains lauric acid. This acid reacts with the alkalis in the saliva. This process will attract bacteria and plaque as it cleanses your mouth. An extra beneficial aspect of lauric acid is that it contains anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Consume Bone Broth
Bone broth has many health benefits. One of these benefits is that it will help to produce saliva in the mouth. People who are on the ketogenic diet, consume water and electrolytes at a faster rate than people who are using glucose as their energy source. That water and those electrolytes need to be replaced. Taking bone broth will allow you to get a great resupply of electrolytes and minerals. These include magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Here is a recipe that you can use to make your own bone broth . . .
- 3.3 lb oxtail
- 2 carrots
- 1 parsley
- 1 white onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp pink Himalaya salt
- 8-10 cups water
Peel vegetables and cut into thirds, putting them into a pressure cooker. Add the oxtail, water, cider vinegar and bay leaves and then sprinkle in the Himalaya salt. Lock the lid of the pressure and set it to high pressure. When that pressure is reached, set the cooker to its lowest heat and cook for 90 minutes.
Once cooked, allow the broth to sit for 5 minutes. Then pour the broth into a dish with a strainer. It is now ready to enjoy.
3 Ways to iHiude the F Hide Your Keto Breath
It is impossible to completely eliminate keto breath. But you are able to mask its effects. Here are the 3 best ways to do it . . .
- Chewing gum – chewing gum will quickly mask your keto breath. Of course, you want it to be sugar free or you’ll be thrown out of keto. Be careful, too, about sugar alternatives like sorbitol, which may cause bloating.
- Mint/ Chlorophyll Tablets – the blending of mint with chlorophyll acts as a great odor neutralizer. The chlorophyll will also provide the extra benefits to get you into keto that we mentioned earlier.
- Breath spray – a breath spray can also neutralize keto breath. Just make sure that is an all-natural brand.
In the grand scheme of things, keto breath is not a great price to pay for the myriad benefits of getting into, and staying in, ketosis. Acetone in your breath is a sign that you are right on track. But if you want to minimize the effects of keto breath you should follow these steps:
- Stay strict on keto and remain under 20 grams each day.
- Practice intermittent fasting
- Drink 2 liters of water each day
- Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables containing chlorophyll
- Don’t overdo the protein
- Chew gum
- Take mint/ chlorophyll tablets
- Use a breath spray
5 Ways to Get into Keto Quicker
- Exercise – working out will help you to use up the glycogen that is stored in your liver. This leaves the liver with no choice but to create ketone bodies in order to provide the energy you need. Working out on an empty stomach will speed up this process.
- Fat Fasting – Over a 3-5 day period, heavily favor fats in your diet. Up your fat intake to 90 percent for those days. At the same time drop your daily calories to 1200.
- Up your caffeine intake – this will help to curb your appetite, keep your liver healthy and help you to burn fat faster.
- MCT Oil – MCT Oils are directly converted to ketones in the mitochondria. This will give you more energy sooner. MCTS can also pass the blood – brain barrier in order to fuel your brain.
- Fasting – when you do not eat, your blood sugar will fall rapidly. Your pancreas will then produce glucagon. This signals the body to burn up glycogen. This will put you into ketosis faster.